There are some simple ways you can extend your life and we have 3 methods to do so.
As of this article the average lifespan in the U.S. is just short of 79 years. But a more important number is what is the average healthspan?
Who wants to extend their life if it will only bring misery to themselves and their family at end of life? Nobody wants extended decline in a nursing home, or the heartbreak of years of dementia. The answer is the dual goal of extending “lifespan” and also of extending “healthspan”.
We will offer 3 straightforward actions you can adopt today to extend both. And, it doesn’t have to cost you anything.
The Comforts of Modern Life Work against Healthy Aging
Homo sapiens did not evolve as a species to be bathed in abundant food, warmth, and leisure 24/7/365.
There are health pathways and longevity genes that get turned on in our bodies when we are moderately and briefly stressed, i.e. “That which doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger”.
Certain small amounts of stress induces hormesis. Hormesis is a biological condition in cells where a little bit of something slightly invasive or toxic causes the cell to develop defensive mechanism to fend off future threats to its life. The key is that the stress be moderate and temporary, obviously not of such a nature to be permanently harmful.
Certain stressors are good for the epigenome which is responsible for gene expression and the effective repair of our DNA.
We’re all aware of DNA from high school biology otherwise known as your genome. Perhaps you or someone in your family has had their genome sequenced. DNA is responsible for replicating cells as perfect matches, it called “expression”.
But we know from science is that gene expression is sometimes not an exact replication. That may be due to damaged DNA. Normally DNA is constantly being repaired by something called the epigenome. Unfortunately as we age the epigenome becomes faulty and gene expression goes slightly out of whack and thus we show the signs of aging: grey hair, wrinkles, and susceptibility to age related diseases.
NAD+ to the Rescue
Scientists believe there are ways to improve the health of the epigenome by increasing the amount of sirtuins in our cells. Sirtuins are responsible for proper functioning of the epigenome. We naturally have sirtuins but their efficacy is highly reliant on the availability of a co-enzyme called NAD+.
Here lies the rub. NAD+ diminishes with age as much as by 50% when we reach our later years. So, less NAD+ means less effective sirtuins, which leads to less effective epigenome which then leads to poor gene expression. The continuation of poor gene expression is believed to be upstream to all the 9 hallmarks of aging such as telomere shortening, slowing down of the mitochondria, and seven others.
And it’s these hallmarks which precede those ugly age related disease we fear such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s.
It begs the question, what if, way upstream, we could raise our NAD+ levels which would then improve sirtuins and then our epigenome, could we then slow down the aging process and extend life? There are many scientists that believe that is true such as Dr. David Sinclair of Harvard and Dr. Leonard Guarente of MIT.
You can’t ingest NAD+ supplements but there are a couple of precursors that turn into NAD+ such as NMN and NR. But, here at FitCommerce we advocate first for physical and lifestyle ways to improve health and there are three actions you can adopt today to increase the levels of NAD+ and sirtuins to lead to better health.
All three actions will stress our cells to induce hormesis. This will channel the sirtuins to shift cells from “growth mode” to “repair mode” and tune up our epigenome.
For years it was believed that constant calorie restriction would prolong human life since it was proven in the labs with yeast, worms, and mice. That is, if you only consumed, say, 70% of the normally prescribed amount of calories every day, you will live longer and healthier. It turns out that it’s only partially right. A better way is some form of intermittent fasting, periods of no food at all.
Regular intermittent fasting is a surefire way to slow down aging and the related diseases associated with it. It does this through a process of autophagy which is triggered by a drop in blood glucose when you don’t eat. Your whole body goes into defensive mode and channels its energy from growing cells to repairing the cells it already has. Autophagy cleans up cellular “junk” and repurposes it to repair cells.
IGF-1, insulin like growth factor, is necessary for young children to grow properly, but in adults it purportedly can aid in the growth of cancer cells. Fasting will also decrease the levels of IGF-1 in your body. And it will promote healthier stem cells which allows for more well-formed cell replications.
Finally, with all those sirtuins that are stimulated by the increased NAD, certain ones have been shown to reduce cancer growth.
After fasting and you go back to eating regularly, try skipping breakfast or delay it for 2-3 hours later than your previous habit. This will lower your glucose and insulin levels. Try also lowering your protein intake, especially animal proteins. High protein levels activated mTOR to foster cell growth but not cell repair. It’s cell repair that extends life. And, finally, do what your mother told you and eat your vegetables. Displacing animal based foods with plant based foods fosters better health.
- High Intensity Exercise
It’s well understood that exercise, of any kind, fosters better health. That doesn’t change. And, there are a multitude of exercise modalities are out there, all have niches depending on the goals of the exerciser: strength, endurance, flexibility, body composition, etc.
But there is a family of exercises that helps lengthen lifespan. Those of high intensity interval training (HIIT). These are exercises that are particularly high in intensity and are anaerobic to the point where you reach muscle failure and are out of breath. This condition stimulates autophagy and raises beneficial HGH.
Yes, aerobic exercise is good for you but it’s the anaerobic exercise that really stresses your cells to go into defensive repair mode which is why it extends lifespan.
The bonus of HGH, human growth hormone, is a good thing for your entire body but our natural levels drop as we age. Anaerobic exercise boosts HGH.
For more on HGH see the post on: Stay Youthful by Biohacking Your HGH through Sprinting
- Cold Therapy
The 3rd longevity hack is cold therapy. Again when our cells are mildly stressed they go into “survival mode” and feeling temporarily cold will trigger this as well.
From a longevity perspective scientists believe cold therapy will boost the components of anti-aging: sirtuins, AGPH and mTOR.
From a health perspective cold therapy will boost Norepinephrine and glutathione. The body’s reaction to this stress is to raise metabolism which is good for weight modulation.
For regular practitioners cold therapy is also believed to increase brown adipose tissue, or brown fat which is actually “good fat”. Brown fat is a defense mechanism against cold and is a living tissue. It is so thin along the upper back as to be unnoticeable.
As opposed to your regular everyday white fat, brown fat is metabolic. It has a lot of mitochondria which causes it creates heat and thus burns calories. Brown fat is prevalent in babies and young children but diminishes as we age. Cold therapy will increase brown fat, more so in the young than the old.
Hw to Adopt Cold Therapy in your Routine
The goal here is to stress our cells to go into defensive mode and promote hormesis, it’s not to harm ourselves. Some people practice cryotherapy where they expose themselves to -200°F for several minutes. Others like to actually fill a bath full of ice water and totally immerse into it. Tony Robbins starts each day by taking a plunge into 57°F water.
Those of you that live up north can incorporate outdoor walking in winter with a light covering. Just get cold enough to shiver but not get frostbite for God’s sake.
For the rest of you, try a morning cold shower routine. Here’s how to get started. Start the stopwatch setting on your smartphone and get under the shower – it’s on fully cold, just take the plunge. Stay as long as you can. Get out and see how long your stayed.
Let’s say you were able to stay in for 90 seconds, that’s good. Now the next day do it again but increment your stay slightly longer, say by an additional 15 seconds. You can do it, it’s only 15 more seconds.
Then each morning add another 15 seconds until you get to 5 minutes. Some people stay under for up to 10 minutes. Any longer than that probably won’t yield any more benefit. The minimum effective dose is 5 minutes.
A Prescription for Boomers
These three hacks are good for any adult at any age. After all aging doesn’t start at age 40, it starts at age 20, you just don’t see it, it’s all at the cellular level.
For boomers, everything favorable has already declined: testosterone, estrogen, HGH, NAD+, the list goes on. So, it’s paramount for boomers to adopt these and other regiments to remain in vigorous good health for as long as possible. If not for you, do it for your loved ones.